“I lost my father at a very young age, since then my mother has been taking care of my family. She does odd jobs to sustain us. It is tough for us to pay the university fees,” said one of the National Institute of Technology (NIT), Andhra Pradesh, Tadepalligudem students who has been waiting to get his scholarship for more than three years.
The 28 engineer students from NIT Andhra Pradesh belonging to the scheduled tribes (SC) have not received their scholarships for the last three years. While the students are struggling to get their scholarship, the college administration is asking the students to submit full four-year fees from their pocket. According to the students, if they fail to do so, the college administration would not allow them to register for their upcoming semester.
The helpless students who merely can afford to pay their daily expense are now scared about their future. The students cry for help, as they claim that the central government website is not responding to their calls and emails and on the other hand their family cannot afford to pay for their collages dues. Marginalised and deprived, they are now left to bear the cost of the authorities’ apathy.
Scholarship for SC students with family annual income below 2 lakhs
The seven female and 21 male students, all belonging to the SC category with family income below 2 lakh, are entitled to get scholarship under the ‘Central Sector Scholarships Scheme Of Top Class Education For SC Students’. According to the scheme any SC student who is pursuing studies beyond 12th class is entitled to get 2 lakhs per annum as their scholarship. The scheme that claims to provide “quality education amongst students belonging to SCs” is operational in all institutions notified by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
Under the schemes, a student is also supposed to get a scholarship for his/her living expenses. The original website of the scheme says that an SC student would be getting Rs 2,220 per month per for living expense. “However, the advance payment of living expenses, to be paid directly by the Central Government, through Direct Benefits Transfer mode would be restricted to 1 quarter only. For books and stationery, the entitled would get Rs 3,000 per annum and for a computer with accessories like UPS, Printer, Multi-media the limit is up to Rs 45,000 per student.
As it appears, it is an excellent scheme, but the question is that does the entitled are even getting any of the schemes’ benefit?
At least the 28 students of the Andhra Pradesh NIT have not got any of the above-listed benefits. This University which was formed in 2015, is funded by the central government. According to the students, when they joined the university in 2015 (first batch of their college) they were asked to apply online for the scholarship.
“We did as we were told. We applied for the scholarship program online in our first year, but we did not get any money. We kept on checking the status of the scholarship online. At that time, it properly showed our eligibility verification, scheme selected for the scholarship, bank account details for receiving the scholarship, yet no money ever reached us,” said a 21-year-old fourth-year mechanical engineer student while talking to The Logical Indian.
The eldest among three brothers, Parveen (name changed as requested) a Dalit student, comes from an agriculture-based background. His father, a small farmer, is the sole breadwinner in the family of five. Parveen is also among the student who has not received their scholarship. While lamenting about the same, he said, “Till first year we could at least apply for the scholarship. For the second year, if a student wanted to avail the scholarship, the student was required to have the first year scholarship receipt. So, we could not apply for the respective years.”
The students claimed that they also approached a local minister and asked him to look into the matter. “He spoke to our college administration who then agreed to wait for some time for the college fee to be submitted as we were not receiving our scholarships. But, now when we are about to complete our course, the administration is forcing us to fully submit our dues.”
He further says, “We can not even afford to pay the fee for one year and not just me, all the students who have not got their scholarships and belong to this category.”
Helpline doesn’t work
These students who belong to the most marginalised section of our society depend on the post-matriculation scholarships to even get the basic education. Deprived of even basic for years and generations, these scholarships are there to help them to cut out of the rut and have an equal opportunity at a good life.
A student told that they tried to call and mail a lot of times to the helpdesk that is mention on the website. However, they have not got any response till now.
“The scheme is under the central government, neither we do not have any influential contacts and nor do we have that much money to go to Delhi and keep running pillar to post. Apart from the helpline desk, we do not even know where else to we go,” said the student.
He added, “We don’t really know where the process is struck but we are unable to clear the dues of college fee. This is a very tough situation to us as we are completely scholarship dependent and the institute now asks us to clear the dues within this week to be allowed for the coming semester’s registration.”
When the student reached out to their college administration, they turned their blind eyes toward the students. “They tell us that they can not do anything as it is the central government matter.”
Caste that kept that deprived for years and now the system is going the same
In case of Dalit students, “the post-matric scholarship is the single largest intervention by Government of India for [their] educational empowerment”, says the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment’s 2017-’18 annual report.
According to the report, the number of beneficiaries has been increasing over the years, but financial support for the scheme for Scheduled Castes has reduced. The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment had told the Parliament on February 2 that the pending scholarship claims from states for Scheduled Caste students amounted to Rs 6,824.5 crore.
The future of these children lies in the hand of the government. The Logical Indian hopes the government take a quick look into the matter.